How I Decorate For Holidays on an almost $0 Budget | Days of Chalk and Chocolate

How I Decorate For Holidays on an almost $0 Budget

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If you have been a reader of this blog, you know I get tremendous pleasure from holiday decorating. I spend crazy amounts of time pinning ideas, reading other bloggers' holiday posts, reading specialty magazines, etc. to get new and fresh ideas for decorating for holidays. I am also on a budget. A small budget. Like $0. I once asked Jim what my budget is per month for fun stuff and he said "Your budget?  Buy nothing." HA HA HA!  It's almost like he has never met me before.

All kidding aside, it is tempting to toss out all the decor from the previous year and start fresh. can I possibly have another red and white Christmas when everyone is using GOLD?  Heavens!  As tempting as it is, I simply cannot do it. I have had to find ways to reuse, re purpose, and stretch my holiday decorating dollars (or dollar if Jim had his way).

1. Invest in classic items
Christmas will always have the same theme so investing in a beautiful nativity or high quality faux evergreens will always be appropriate. Think about the holiday in a general way and find items that can act as your cornerstones for your decorating.

Faux evergreen garland, Christmas Home Tour

2. Choose colors that can work for more than 1 holiday for your larger ticket items.
I try to make sure my linens are solid, neutral colors that I can liven up with more vibrant colors that may be associated with a specific holiday.  One of my best purchases was a set of dark gray ruffled place mats. They look beautiful paired with red for Valentine's Day but they also look chic with silver and black for New Year's Eve.  If you keep your china white or bone you can easily switch out cheap chargers or accent plates from the thrift store to jazz up the table.
Valentine's Day Tablescape

3. Trade with friends.
Sometimes you just need a change and maybe your friend, neighbor, sister does too. My sister and I pass decor items back and forth a lot (ok, mostly she passes them to me). 
My sister handed down the pretty tray on which I displayed my DIY Mercury Glass Candlestick.

4. Use natural elements (i.e, free!).
Walk around your neighborhood and pick up the natural elements you find. Paint interesting branches or embellish them with glitter. Stick some tall branches in a tall container and hang paper ornaments on it. Gather pine cones, acorns, and interesting stones for vase fillers or to make wreaths or door hangings.  I cut tons of boughs from the cedar and pine trees on our property to use at Christmas.  It looks lovely and it's easy to get more when they dry out.

Winter Chair Decor, Christmas Home Tour
Gathered acorns, Fall Centerpiece

Dried Orange Garland

5. Embrace spray paint
My plain plastic chargers have been 3 different colors. Since you don't eat on a charger, it's fine to paint them. In fact, they are sitting outside right now with a new color drying on them!  I repaint everything. I needed something black for my Halloween mantel so I grabbed a garage sale brown candelabra and sprayed it a rich black. I am guessing it will probably turn gold soon for Christmas and I bet it may be pink by Valentine's Day and will stay pink through spring! 

These pears were green last year. This year? Gold!

These silver chargers on my Valentine's Day Tablescape post are now gold. I'll show them to you this week.

6. Search for free printables.
So many talented people share the printables they create. I'm so grateful too because I can't seem to get the hang of it myself.  Creating new decor can sometimes be as easy as clicking and printing!

Back to School Mantel, ABC & 123 printable by The Cottage Market


7. Use what you have
So you've been on that awesome blog and she once again has a gorgeous vignette set out for the holiday. Where can you get a beautiful milk glass pitcher like that so you can fill it with dried hydrangeas too?  Well, maybe you can't. But maybe you have something of equal size or color that can give you a similar look. And you may have to think outside the box (or milk glass pitcher).  Can you spray paint a large oatmeal container and use that for your dried flowers?  Or maybe you can take the top off a cookie jar or old coffee can? Sometimes I just have to look around in the places I may least expect to find something like in a bedroom or in the garage. You just never know!

8. Decorate for seasons instead of holidays.
I change my mantel for holidays but in general I decorate for each season. As a public school teacher, we don't teach any religious holidays and therefore I didn't decorate our room for them. I liked that I could keep my decorations up for 2-3 months. I do this at home now too. I may add one or two holiday specific things to my mantel or vignette but the bulk of my holiday decor will stay the same for an entire season.

9. Move items around.
The gold pears that are clustered in a  bowl  in my dining room for fall will move to the mantel with some greenery for winter/Christmas. Joining the pears will be some dollar store birds that were perched in my spring china cabinet decor, except this time they will be sprayed gold.  I take it even further. The ribbon roses I made for a set of fall pillows became the embellishment on some toilet paper tube napkin rings!

Basic Pillow Sewing Tutorial
Autumn tablescape

10. Buy good candles but don't light them.
I don't burn my candles ever. I buy fancy ones but then they get wrapped and put away in a cabinet for another holiday or for next year. I keep cheap white candles to burn or we use  LEDs which I love.

Halloween 2012
Fall 2013

These are just a few of the ways I keep our expenses down while still indulging in my Martha side. What are your favorite budget stretchers for holiday decor? Do you have tricks to make a home festive without breaking the bank?



  1. Great tips! I especially like your idea of decorating for the season instead of the holiday. That way when all the Santa's go back in the box the seasonal items can stay out for a few more months. Then the house doesn't look so bare after the holidays. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Possibly one of your best and most helpful posts ever. What clever tips.

  3. Loved your post...Just yesterday, I started thinking about the holidays. Well, over the weekend. We were at our second home in AR and I picked up a lot of Pine cones and acorns. Now to do something with them.


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